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Should AC Refrigerant Lines Be Insulated?

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When optimizing your home’s air conditioning system for maximum performance, you might be wondering whether or not to insulate the refrigerant lines. Insulation is inexpensive and easy to install. With that said, not all parts of your air conditioning system need to be insulated. So, should the refrigerant lines be insulated?

An Introduction to Refrigerant Lines

Refrigerant lines are the pipes – typically copper or sometimes aluminum pipes – that carry refrigerant into and out of your home. Most air conditioning systems have two refrigerant lines. They both run from the indoor evaporator coil to the outdoor condenser unit.

While both refrigerant lines carry refrigerant, they operate under different pressure. There’s a low-pressure refrigerant line and a high-pressure refrigerant line. The low-pressure refrigerant line carries low-pressure refrigerant from the evaporator coil to the condenser unit. In comparison, the high-pressure refrigerant line carries high-pressure and condensed refrigerant from the condenser unit to the evaporator coil.

Why the Low-Pressure Line Should Be Insulated

You typically don’t need to insulate the high-pressure refrigerant line. You should, however, insulate the low-pressure refrigerant. Insulating the low-pressure refrigerant line will protect against condensation.

Also known as the suction line, the low-pressure refrigerant line is usually larger than the high-pressure line. It’s designed to transport refrigerant from the evaporator coil to the condenser unit. Without insulation around the low-pressure refrigerant line, condensation may form. The low-pressure refrigerant line will develop condensation that can cause moisture damage. To protect against condensation, the low-pressure refrigerant should be insulated.

With a barrier of insulation around it, the low-pressure refrigerant line shouldn’t develop condensation. The foam pipe insulation will prevent the loss of thermal energy so that condensation doesn’t develop.

Insulating the high-pressure refrigerant line may actually prove counterproductive. If it’s insulated, the high-pressure refrigerant won’t be able to release as much heat. Therefore, refrigerant will remain warmer as it travels from the condenser unit to the evaporator coil, which could result in poorer cooling performance.

In Conclusion

Refrigerant lines are the pipes that transport refrigerant through your air conditioning system. Most air conditioning systems have a low-pressure and a high-pressure refrigerant line. Of these two lines, you typically only need to insulate the former. Insulating the high-pressure refrigerant will protect against condensation. At the same time, it will ensure that the refrigerant remains at an appropriate pressure while it’s being carried to the condenser unit.

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